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Auburn's inside game could be back on center stage

Feb. 14, 2014

Auburn's Tony Barbee has a word for Allen Payne (USA Today photo)

 Auburn Basketball
 Matchup  Auburn (11-11, 3-8 SEC) vs. Mississippi State (13-11, 3-8 SEC) | Game Notes
 Date & Time  Saturday, February 15 at 12:45 P.M. CT
 Location  Auburn Arena | GameDay Info (Parking, Seating Chart, etc.)
 Tickets  Buy Tickets Online | Men's Basketball Ticket Information
 Broadcasts  TV: SEC-TV | Radio: WGZZ 94.3 FM • SIRIUS 117 • XM 200
 Online  Webcast | Live Audio | Live Stats | Twitter: @AUbasketball
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn's Allen Payne got the message in the first meeting against Mississippi State. Score more, and bring some of the other big fellas with him. 

Payne, the forward, and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, the center, combined for 24 points and 23 rebounds against the Bulldogs on Jan. 22, and though Auburn lost 82-74, coach Tony Barbee's plea that the inside game could contribute hit home. 

Auburn hopes it will again in a rematch with Mississippi State at 12:45 p.m. Saturday in Auburn Arena. 

Auburn's inside game has been inconsistent, for the most part; and the plea for deep scoring fell short in the Tigers' 64-56 loss to Kentucky on Wednesday. But the Tigers have shown flashes of balance and inside play, and those two things have helped Auburn go 3-2 in the SEC the last few weeks after an 0-6 start. The Tigers are 11-11 overall. Mississippi State, losers of six straight, is 13-11 and also 3-8 in the league. 

Auburn has been close enough in most SEC games, though the record shows it hasn't finished strong. 

"We feel like we can win all of these games that we are playing, no matter where we are playing or who we are playing against, but we have come up short in some of those bigger games," Payne said. "We feel like we should have won, could have won in Starkville. 

"We feel like every game is pivotal, but this one especially. It's at home, the majority of our games are at home down the stretch. I think we have a good chance of winning those but I feel like this is an urgent situation where we have to have this win." 

Chris Denson and KT Harrell have been the scoring tandem for Auburn, and are the No. 2 scoring duo in the SEC. But while Denson had 26 points against Kentucky, Harrell misfired and scored only seven. Payne said that's when he and others have to step up. He and Dixon-Tatum each had their highest totals for points and rebounds in an SEC game against State the first time.

"We try not to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, we just try to go out there and play and know that CD and K are going to get theirs that night," Payne said. "We feed off of them and they make plays for us, setting us up different kinds of stuff. We don't put a lot of pressure on ourselves but we know we have to step up, especially scoring the ball."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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